By Shira Gould || Contributing Writer
This past week was National Hazing Prevention week. As such, The Panhellenic Council sponsored a viewing of the movie Haze: A Greek Tragedy. The movie is meant to expose the underground hazing system in fraternities and sororities on college campuses across the country. It follows a freshman named Nick as he rushes for Psi Theta Epsilon in an attempt to enhance his college experience. While the movie is well made and does a fine job portraying the dangers of hazing, it is very difficult to watch. It is very graphic–showing images of sex, drugs, and even human excretion. Viewer discretion is advised.
The movie starts after an incident with Psi Theta Epsilon’s pledge, Zac Green, who died of alcohol poisoning during hell week. In response, Nick’s brother, Pete began filming a Greek system expose. The movie showed many examples of disturbing techniques that fraternities and sororities use to haze their pledges across the country. They forced their pledges to drink alcohol until they would throw up, not only affecting their health but also their schoolwork. They encouraged their pledges to engage in sexual relations with women from other sororities in order to prove that they are masculine.
Worst of all, they trapped their pledges in a room and forced them to kill the dog that they had been taking care of since the beginning of rush. Zac Green died after he was forced to partake in what they called, “the wheel of death.” He had to drink bottles of alcohol until he choked on his own throw up and died in front of his fraternity brothers, who dumped his body on a lawn and neglected to call an ambulance. Pledges suffered through emotional and physical abuse, leading the viewer to question the validity of Greek life.
The movie also showed the effects that the culture of hazing has on a college campus in general. It presented the disdain that some non-affiliated students have for Greek life on campuses where hazing is prevalent. “I came here to learn,” one non-affiliated student asserted. Meanwhile, Psi Theta Epsilon forced their pledges to go on a scavenger hunt that essentially involved trashing the campus, thus disrupting the lives of students. They also made Nick and his pledge brothers destroy Pete’s film studio, eventually resulting in police intervention that did not lead anywhere.
Although the movie was effective in raising many powerful points about problems in Greek Life nationally, the movie was not without some weaker points. At one point in the movie, Nick accused his brother of trying to ruin his pledge process because he was jealous. This part of the plot was underdeveloped. We never discovered why Pete would have been jealous of Nick’s potential success in a fraternity, why Pete was making the film or what ended up happening with it. That story line was irrelevant to the rest of the movie. If anything, it made the plot more confusing. In addition to a few confusing moments, the movie’s portrayal of Greek Life may have, at times, been unbalanced. Students who are affiliated with Greek life are all portrayed as being selfish, arrogant and dangerous.
Overall, the movie made me feel thankful that at Franklin & Marshall, we do not have the same issues that are presented in the movie. The message is very clear, despite the disturbing nature of the movie. Hazing can hurt and kill. In the end, it only serves to destroy the goals of Greek life at its best: to build special life long bonds.
First-year Shira Gould is a contriubing writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.